Yesterday, June 16, was Bloomsday, the annual remembrance of the day in 1904 that James Joyce chose, probably because it was the day of his first date with Nora Barnacle, his future wife, to chronicle the quotidian occurrences in the lives of Leopold Bloom, his wife Molly, and Stephen Dedalus in his massive and seminal novel Ulysses. At the invitation of Larry Kirwan, I went to a Bloomsday event, at Ulysses' Folk House in lower Manhattan, that featured readings from the novel. I chose to read a review of a Blarney Stone restaurant and bar from Jim Quinn's 1973 restaurant guidebook Word of Mouth, which book I described in this post, and which review includes a lengthy quotation from Ulysses. My reading is preserved in the above YouTube clip, thanks to Larry's wife, June, who shot it with my camera.
There were many excellent readings, prominent among them being Larry's rendition of the "Nausicaa" chapter of Ulysses; Larry styles himself "the foremost male interpreter of Gerty McDowell", and I can't gainsay that claim. The climax (literally and figuratively) was Aedin Moloney's reading of Molly Bloom's soliloquy, which closes the novel. I tried to video her performance, and unfortunately ran out of memory card capacity; but was delighted to find a clip of her doing the same reading, below:
Addendum: Erik Brogger posted this comment on Brooklyn Heights Blog:
As a member of the Amateur Astronomers Association, I attended an event down on Pier One last night where the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy and SYFY provided us with telescopes. Since it was Bloomsday (eve) I wanted to show people a particular double star – Mu Bootis – which, according to the Norton Star Atlas, is 107 Light Years distant from us. This double star is oddly appropriate to the famous paired relationship between Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom in Joyce’s Ulysses, the-greatest-novel-ever-written that-I-never-quite-finished. I wanted to make the romantic claim that anyone looking at this double star was looking back in time to “June 16th, 1904.” Then I’d conclude with an appreciation of Joyce’s words from chapter 17: “The heaventree of stars hung with humid night-blue fruit.” Alas, it was cloudy. The only stars I could show anyone were the Stars and Stripes flying from a flag pole atop the Brooklyn Bridge.
Maybe next Bloomsday I’ll be looking for find another star, this time 108 Lights Years away.